Midnight call logs to stay on Daphne’s blog
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Midnight call logs to stay on Daphne’s blog

The call logs were necessary since the newspaper editor and Keith Schembri were denying that any conversations took place.

A screen grab of the chat logs published on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog.

A screen grab of the chat logs published on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog.

Call logs of a midnight chat between MaltaToday co-owner Saviour Balzan and the Prime Minister’s top aide Keith Schembri will remain online, a data tribunal decided last week.

The call logs were published by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia after Mr Balzan took to Facebook denying that the late-night chat had taken place just hours after Ms Caruana Galizia published the Egrant story in April 2017.

Mr Balzan threatened to sue the journalist but quickly retracted the threat and removed the Facebook post once Ms Caruana Galizia had published call logs showing the conversations did in fact take place.

The logs showed that Mr Schembri called the newspaper editor at 00:42 on April 21. Their late-night chat lasted around eight minutes.

Two subsequent conversations took place the following day, one of which lasted over 20 minutes, according to the call logs published by Ms Caruana Galizia.

Both Mr Balzan and Mr Schembri filed complaints with the Data Commissioner, in which they asked for their mobile numbers and the call logs to be removed from Ms Caruana Galizia’s blog.

This request was upheld by the Data Commissioner, who deemed there was no public interest justifying the publication of their mobile numbers and call logs.

A subsequent appeal filed by Ms Caruana Galizia has now led the Information and Data Protection Tribunal to rule that the call logs should not be removed. Ms Caruana Galizia had removed the blog post in question pending the appeal. The tribunal, chaired by Anna Mallia, said details of the call logs were necessary at the time, seeing that both Mr Balzan and Mr Schembri were denying that any such conversations took place.

These denials took place at a time when the public had a legitimate right to know, seeing that both Mr Balzan and Mr Schembri are public figures, the tribunal continued.

The tribunal did however demand that Mr Balzan’s and Mr Schembri’s phone numbers be removed from the blog, as their publication constituted “unlawful and excessive processing of personal data”.

At the time the logs were published, Mr Balzan submitted a complaint to the data commissioner and telecoms companies Vodafone and GO.

Both companies have denied being the sources of the call logs.

The tribunal ordered the Data Commissioner to conclude the investigation about the complaint filed against the phone companies.

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